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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Hill, Theophilus

by Hugh Buckner Johnston, 1988; Revised by SLNC Government and Heritage Library, February 2023

1741–20 Dec. 1790

Theophilus Hill, interstate merchant and planter, was a son of the wealthy Abraham and Judith Hinton[?] Hill of Chowan County. By the end of 1761 he had established himself near Contentnea Creek in what is now Wilson County. In 1763 he sold his patrimony of 990 acres, including the Punch Bowl, and invested most of the proceeds in Hill & Company, buying and selling merchantable commodities between Peacock's Bridge and New Bern. The firm was involved in a lawsuit in the Edgecombe County Court of July 1764. Hill was replaced as a road overseer in 1765 and was living in New Bern by 22 Nov. 1768, when he sold all his land in Edgecombe and Dobbs (soon to become Wayne) counties.

Within a year or two he decided to try the mercantile and planting potentialities of the South Carolina upcountry, establishing himself on the South Fork of the Edisto River (in present Saluda County) about 40 miles north of Augusta. By 1786 Hill had left his capable oldest son, Lodowick, in charge of the Edgefield District plantation and had transferred his principal operations to the vicinity of San Diego Plains some 20 miles north of St. Augustine, Fla. By the time of his death, his wife and younger children had become communicants of the Roman Catholic church, despite her unusual Baptist background. Undocumented tradition states that he lost a large plantation near Santo Domingo, Haiti, during the bloody insurrection of 1790–91.

On 3 Sept. 1762 Hill was bonded to marry Theresa Thomas (1744–ca. 1825), daughter of the Reverend John Thomas, Sr., and his wife Christenater Roberts of Tosneot Baptist Church in Edgecombe (now Wilson) County. On 4 Feb. 1792 she married as her second husband Don Manuel Marchal.

Hill and his wife had at least seven children: Lodowick (1763–22 July 1822), who in 1785 married Susannah ("Susan") Grigsby of Edgefield County, S.C., after serving as sergeant in Captain Isaac Ross's Troop, Second Regiment, South Carolina State Dragoons; Sarah (María del Carmen), who married Francisco Xavier Sánchez, 28 Dec. 1787; Christiana, who married José Sánchez de Ortegosa, 15 Sept. 1794; María Antonia, who married Bernardino Sánchez de Ortegosa, 4 Feb. 1799; Elizabeth (Isabel), who married Joseph Burnell from Lynn, Norfolk, England, 7 Feb. 1797; and Anna María (6 June 1787–23 June 1849), who married Samuel Williams of St. Augustine, 12 Aug. 1805, and General José Mariano Hernándes, 25 Feb. 1814.

Hill was also the enslaver of three people: one man named Densa and two boys whose names were Peter and Charles. 


St. Augustine Cathedral Records, Canova Transcripts.

Lodowick Johnson Hill, The Hills of Wilkes County, Georgia (1972).

Additional Resources:

Johnston, Hugh Buckner, Jr. "ROBERTS THOMAS, ESQ., AND THE GREAT YAZOO LAND FRAUD." North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal 1980, no. 4. 250.

Hill, Lanette. The HILL FAMILY GENEALOGY. 2006. (accessed April 24, 2014).

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